Comment: For fans of drama, the blockbuster election night this Saturday may not offer much. With an avalanche of early voting, there will be precious little suspense when a huge swathe of totals are revealed not long after 7pm.
There will be some pathos, of course, as some political careers come to an end in real time under the glare of the press pack's cameras. There will be time for solemnity or defiance.
But the narrative of the 2020 election is now set. Unlike 2017, there will be no doubt on the night about which of the major parties has a mandate to govern. Labour, with or without the Greens, will spend another three years in the Beehive.
Its ministers and particularly its leader, Jacinda Ardern, rose to the occasion after a term of delivery disappointments to ably steer the country through the first part of a global catastrophe. Saturday is the happy ending they have probably earned.
In contrast, Judith Collins' Potemkin walkabout on Ponsonby Rd was more like a stage set collapsing around the actors in a play. It almost seemed as if a falling spotlight could crash onto the footpath at any moment.
It's a reminder of the relative artificiality of campaigns. Many of the real issues are kept offscreen.
No party leader has chosen to do a walkabout at an Auckland open home, to meet and greet first-home buyers forking out eight times their salaries for doer-uppers in distant suburbs, nor with tenants receiving increase notices despite record-low interest rates. Let alone pressing the flesh at emergency accommodation motels crowded with vulnerable families and people with complex needs.
Despite the lack of drama in the main storyline, there is still every reason to cast a ballot. Under MMP every vote potentially counts, in terms of the relative strengths of the parties in Parliament.
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And this year the public gets to decide directly on whether the Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill and the End of Life Choice Act will be given effect.
The stakes are high: failure for either of the referenda will put cannabis law reform and/or legal euthanasia for terminally ill patients off the political agenda for another decade.
Opponents of the referenda understand this, and have mounted large, well-organised campaigns, designed to get out conservative supporters and sow doubt in undecided voters based on specific quibbles with the legislation as drafted.
Likewise, those wavering supporters, who want these issues treated as health rather than criminal matters, but feel uncertain about the technicalities, may wish to vote yes. It is easier to fine-tune existing law than to start from scratch in a few elections' time.
The referenda results will not be known until the end of October. That ending, at least, remains open.
Ben Thomas is a PR consultant and former National government press secretary